CNA REPORT: Catholic bishops across the U.S. are urging the all of the faithful to unite their prayers with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, Nov. 27, in an unprecedented worldwide vigil for unborn life.
The Pope will celebrate a special Vespers service that Saturday evening at St. Peter's Basilica, heralding the first Sunday of Advent. Pope Benedict has recommended that “parishes, religious communities, associations and movements” join him for evening prayer, in “churches throughout the world.”
The season of preparation for Christmas, the Pope said on Nov. 14, “is a favorable time to invoke the divine protection of every human being called into existence, and to give thanks to God for the gift of life we have received from our parents.”
Although it is common for the Pope to encourage prayer for particular intentions, the request for a coordinated worldwide vigil –to be held on the same date and approximately the same time, in all dioceses– is highly exceptional. Several bishops' comments have indicated that nothing comparable has ever occurred in the history of the Church.
While many Americans may be occupied with the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and the shopping blitz of “Black Friday,” bishops across the country are encouraging believers not to neglect the Pope's historic call to prayer.
“At this moment in history,” Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco wrote, “when societies are endorsing the killing of human beings as a solution to social, economic, and environmental problems, the Holy Father is reminding us of the necessity and power of prayer to protect human life.”
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta stressed that those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church should nevertheless join their prayers with those of the Pope and his flock throughout the world. He also encouraged those who cannot attend a vigil service, due to other commitments, to participate to the best of their ability.
“I invite all Christians to begin the Advent season uniting in prayer for God's protection and help for human life,” he wrote. “All are welcome to take part in a special prayer on November 27 whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays.”
The Diocese of Davenport in Iowa has produced a booklet that will allow families who are unable to attend the full services, to join in some of the same prayers that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at St. Peter's on the night of the vigil. That booklet is available from the diocese's website, athttp://www.davenportdiocese.org/lit/liturgylibrary/litPrayerforLifeFamilyBooklet.pdf.
All of the vigils will feature exposition of the Eucharist and and benediction, with most slated to include the Church's traditional evening prayer of psalms and petitions. Some parishes will also be hosting Marian processions and recitation of the Rosary. While most participating parishes will hold services during the evening, some have scheduled them earlier, or in conjunction with a vigil Mass.
Those planning to attend should confirm times and parish participation, either through the Internet or by contacting their local diocese before the Thanksgiving holiday, since offices may be closed the following Friday.
AGENZIA FIDES REPORT – “WE NEED TO CONSOLIDATE PEACE AT ANY COST”, SAID THE ARCHBISHOP OF ABIDJAN ON THE EVE OF VOTING
On the eve of balloting for the presidential elections to be held Sunday, 28 November, mixed signals are coming from the Côte d'Ivoire. On one hand, the two candidates, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, last night launched an appeal for calm to voters during a televised debate. Secondly there is the killing of a pro Gbagbo demonstrator in the west of the Country, the region where cocoa plantations are concentrated and where indigenous peoples (considered pro Gbagbo) and immigrants from the north of Côte d'Ivoire or of foreign origin (considered pro Ouattara) live together.
For the past week there have been several incidents of clashes between protesters of the two camps, with some injuries, but no casualties.
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan and spokesperson for the group of religious leaders for the “peaceful” elections, urged Ivorians to remain calm and act responsibly. “We implore the two candidates, in the name of God, to conduct an electoral campaign that allows us to go to the polls in complete peace. By committing ourselves to have the wisdom and dignity necessary to avoid cheap debates, we wish to invite fellow citizens to do likewise. We must consolidate peace at any cost.”
Bishop Kutwa also confirmed that whoever is elected President will have to embody national unity: “Once again, we would like to record that the presidential election is not and never will be the consecration of a religion, ethnic group, or a region. What we seek is to have a President who rises above all clans, tribes and religions; a president capable of leading our Country and those who inhabit it, to its full development.”
The group of religious leaders has indicated 24, 25 and 26 November as moments of prayer and fasting for the ballot to be conducted in an atmosphere of peace.
Representatives of civil and military organizations, business and labor groups and urban poor communities also joined the event to express “concern for peace and commitment to peace-building” in Mindanao.
Claretian missioner Father Angel Calvo said the annual celebration was a time for residents to renew their commitment to peace and peace-building.
Father Calvo heads the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace that has spearheaded the “Week of Peace” celebration since 1998.
“We have come out together to the streets to show our common concern for peace and to celebrate our diversity,” he said.
Professor Ali Yacub, who spoke on behalf of the Islamic community said Muslims in the city invite everybody “to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice – the two commandments of love of God and neighbor.”
Italian missioner Father Giulio Mariani said “the demand of our mission is for a deepened understanding of other religious communities, their religiosity and their theologies, attitudes of genuine respect and reverence for other beliefs and spiritualities.”
A statement by Protestant Churches said they were “united to manifest the same promise to pursue our common aspirations to see peace not simply an abstract idea but rather a real fruit of hard work and unity.”
Indigenous peoples said in a joint statement that they renew their commitment “to work to uplift not only our own tribes but for the greatness of all.”
“Our initiatives will ultimately bring about a harmonious relationship among the indigenous people through regeneration of culture and other peoples to achieve peace,” they said.
Feast: November 27
|Luke 21: 34 - 36|
|34||"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;|
|35||for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.|
|36||But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."|